A decade of students have made the hallway rounds since Central High School last won a district baseball championship.
And one would have to delve deep into the record books of veteran former coach Gene Lively to find the last Purple Pounders team that went undefeated on its way to a league title.
Central won the District 6-AA championship Tuesday, matching the Ryan Wilkes-led Pounders of 2003 with a 6-4 victory over East Hamilton, which like Central entered the two-game series with a 12-0 district record.
"My guys set a goal to win them all [district games], and I don't think Central has done that in a while," Central coach Glen Carter said. "They were competitive, they worked hard and they played for each other."
Senior catcher Ryan Poole and his courtesy runner, Andrew McDaniel, ignited the Pounders' bat-around, five-run second inning. Poole, Central's No. 5 batter, singled to left field and McDaniel proceeded to steal second and third. He and Matt Ford, who had walked, came around to score on Dylan Jones' double, which was followed by RBI hits from Dominique Dawson, Tyler Lowe and Gabe Fomby.
Poole's contribution was far from over. He threw out two East Hamilton runners in the sixth inning and another in the seventh to quash potential rallies.
"I ran us out of some potential big innings in the sixth and seventh, but we were playing from behind," Hurricanes coach Steve Garland said. "The book would say not to make outs on the bases, but I was trying to get some guys in scoring position in front of our [middle-of-the-order] hitters and it just didn't work out."
Poole caught two at second and another at third.
"It's a great momentum-killer," Carter said. "He's throwing out something like 79 percent, and it may be even higher than that now. He's a great weapon behind the plate."
Colton Morgan got the pitching victory, scattering eight hits and giving up just two earned runs.
"He's a competitor," Poole said. "Everybody knows when he's pitching that we have a good chance."
Carter was going to stay with the senior even after East Hamilton closed within two with a single run in the sixth.
"He was hitting his spots and definitely hit them when he absolutely had to," the coach said. "He was my guy and I was going to ride him till they tied it, at least."
That never happened despite the efforts of Hurricanes sophomore reliever Hunter Smith. The lefty came on with two outs in the second and allowed one earned run the rest of the way.
"That little lefty he brought in did a pretty good job on us. We didn't hit too well after that," Carter said.
"The difference in the game staying close and not getting one-sided was Hunter keeping us in it, but credit to Central. They're a really nice club." Garland said. "They're good on the mound and defensively, and they're aggressive at the plate and on the bases."
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...